A “Bass-Ball” Challenge in the Delhi Gazette, 1825

From Delhi Gazette, July 13, 1825.

From Delhi Gazette, July 13, 1825.

In Baseball in the Garden of Eden, one of my recurrent themes was the vital role that gambling played in making a boys’ game worthy of adult attention. That gambling turned out to be the snake in the garden was soon evident and the professional leagues struggled to restrain it (eradication was not possible). Here is the first record of filthy lucre intruding into the sylvan primordial field. The  Delhi Gazette (upstate New York) of July 13, 1825 contains this challenge to play “bass-ball” –for money.

A CHALLENGE

The undersigned, all residents of the new town of Hamden, with the exception of Asa C. Howland, who has recently removed into Delhi, challenge an equal number of persons in any town in the county of Delaware, to meet them at any time at the house of Edward B. Chace, in said town, to play the game of BASS-BALL, for the sum of one dollar each per game.  If no town can be found that will produce the required number, they will have no objection to play against any selection that can be made from the several towns in the county.

ELI BAGLEY, EDWARD B. CHACE, HARRY P. CHACE, IRA PEAK, WALTER B. PEAK, H.B. GOODRICH, R.F. THURBER, ASA C. HOWLAND, M.L. BOSTWICK.

Hamden, July 12, 1825.

4 Comments

I have a question for John Thorn on baseball history.  How do I email him?

Thanks

Jim Wohlenhaus

SABR Member since 1978

Jim, you may ask the question right here! But if you prefer to reach me by email, I am at john.thorn@mlb.com.

Incredible! For those of us brought up on the Al Spalding / Mills Commission ‘Big Bang Theory’, this is like reading a Dead Sea Scroll.

This 1825 entry was quite the cat’s pajamas until George Thompson found an 1823 press report of a baseball game in New York City, and then a couple of years later I spotted a 1791 ordinance barring the game from being played within 80 yards of a meeting house in Pittsfield. Baseball’s history goes back, back, back.

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